UCHealth’s mission is to improve lives, and that effort stretches far beyond the bedside and into communities across Colorado.
In big ways and small ways, UCHealth joins shoulder-to-shoulder with our communities to make them stronger and healthier.
Whether it is helping veterans experiencing homelessness find housing, assisting communities in their efforts to stomp out hunger or helping to battle loneliness in older adults, UCHealth is committed to helping Coloradans grow healthier, both in clinics and on street corners.
In all, UCHealth provides $1.1 billion in total community benefits, including almost $400 million in uncompensated care. It provides more than $300 million for medical research at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, where new discoveries are happening every day.
Whether the effort is massive, such as UCHealth’s $150 million commitment to provide better access to behavioral health care, or as simple – but no less significant as providing free blood pressure screenings at a Fiestas Patrias festival in Colorado Springs, UCHealth‘s influence is far-reaching.
“We’re focused on improving lives, and that goes far beyond traditional medical care. UCHealth is part of the fabric of this state, and we are vital to the well-being of our communities,’’ said Elizabeth B. Concordia, UCHealth president and CEO. “We know that health goes well beyond a doctor’s check-up.’’
UCHealth partners or makes financial contributions to more than 100 organizations in our cities, suburbs and rural communities — organizations like Miles for Migraine, dedicated to finding a cure for migraine; Newborn Hope to help babies born prematurely; and the Parkinson’s Association of the Rockies to provide care to people living with that debilitating condition.
The partnerships help UCHealth assist in addressing real community needs that help niche groups, including new moms, victims of abuse, people experiencing food insecurity and children.
Below is a snapshot of ways UCHealth is working for the benefit of communities.
UCHealth has pumped more than $150 million over five years to provide better access to behavioral health care in Colorado. UCHealth has recently added 40 badly needed inpatient psychiatric beds and integrated behavioral health experts in primary care clinics. UCHealth has also added video visits to increase access to behavioral health providers.
“Our overall mission from a behavioral health access perspective has been to remove barriers to care,” said Elicia Bunch, vice president of behavioral health at UCHealth. “That means not only making behavioral health services more available but also breaking down the stigma often attached to mental health issues and ensuring that they are treated as an essential part of medical care.’’
On the streets, UCHealth pairs behavioral health professionals with local law enforcement agencies across the Front Range to assist people who are in crisis. This helps communities by reducing the burden on the criminal justice system and preventing unnecessary incarceration and/or hospitalization of individuals with behavioral health concerns.
Research programs at the University of Colorado School of Medicine
UCHealth contributes nearly $300 million annually to support the University of Colorado School of Medicine.
The school has a record of success and expertise in innovation, discovery and commercialization of therapies, drugs and medical devices. It also has a long list of medical breakthroughs. To name only a few: The university has developed a more effective shingles vaccine; discovered that celiac disease is much more prevalent than previously believed, leading to a push for routine screening for celiac; and designed mice that do not get fat when on a high-fat diet, a breakthrough that could address obesity in humans.
Importantly, UCHealth is a nonprofit corporation, completely separate from the University of Colorado, and it receives no taxpayer funding from the Colorado general fund.
UCHealth’s support for CU helps expand Colorado’s health care workforce by training more physicians, nurses and advanced practice providers. The support also makes additional clinical trials and advanced treatments possible in Colorado while helping to recruit the very best specialists to care for patients in our state.
Colorado Springs Health Foundation
UCHealth Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs has contributed more than $160 million to the Colorado Springs Health Foundation, established when citizens voted to lease Memorial Health System to UCHealth in 2012.
Over the years, through lease and revenue-sharing payments, UCHealth has supported the foundation’s effort to grow healthier communities in El Paso and Teller Counties.
The CSHF has surpassed $40 million in grants to more than 100 local non-profit organizations. The efforts of the foundation help to improve access to health care, prevent suicide, cultivate healthy environments, and prevent and heal trauma in underserved and high-need populations.
Addressing these community health needs “upstream’’ helps to reduce the number of unnecessary visits to hospital emergency rooms, prevent disease and injury and provide outreach to underserved communities.
Growing future health care workers
UCHealth has pledged $50 million over four years to pay for educational programs for employees to grow their careers, earn higher paychecks and bolster the health care workforce.
The Ascend Career Program is a partnership with Guild Education, a career opportunity company that partners with employers like UCHealth to help employees earn certificates and new degrees.
UCHealth is the first hospital system in Colorado to launch a program with Guild. Employees who work at least half-time for UCHealth qualify for Ascend and are eligible to apply for the program starting on their first day of work.
“Ascend offers debt-free education,” said David Mafe, UCHealth’s chief diversity officer. “It gives our folks the ability to think, ‘If I could choose any career, what would I want to be? And how do I get there?’”
The program can spark multi-generational change by giving people a path to success, leading to healthier communities.
“Education ceases to be a barrier,” Mafe said.
Community Health Benefit Fund
As part of the partnership established in 2017 between UCHealth and Yampa Valley Medical Center, the Steamboat Springs community and YVMC are benefiting from investments of more than $105 million from UCHealth, including a $20 million contribution to the Yampa Valley Medical Center Foundation. Organizations in the communities served by YVMC apply for grants to further promote health in northwest Colorado.
Partnering with Aurora Public Schools
UCHealth has donated $250,000 to Aurora Public Schools and Aurora Science & Tech to give students “real world’’ health care experiences.
The new school, located on the Anschutz Medical Campus, serves students from grades 6-12, and is one of only a handful of schools in the country that is located on a medical campus.
The school’s curriculum emphasizes science, technology, engineering and math — known as STEM courses — and Aurora Science & Tech will offer a hands-on biosciences elective class. It will include case studies along with career exploration.
Nurse Advice Line
UCHealth, at no-cost to patients, offers a Nurse Advice Line, also known as HealthLink, to answer health-related questions, find a physician and provide advice on minor illnesses and injuries.
Open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, the service is available by calling 719-444-CARE.
Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program
UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central opened a first-of-its-kind medical unit dedicated solely to providing forensic nursing care to patients who have experienced sexual assault, physical assault or other types of abuse.
The new 3,700-square-foot Forensic Center of Excellence, funded through a $3 million grant from the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice, includes five exam rooms and a nurses’ station. It also houses an expanding forensic telehealth program that supports more than a dozen rural hospitals and clinics across Colorado, ensuring patients who have experienced violence or abuse can receive care in or near their own communities. The new center opened in the spring.
In 2022, UCHealth’s team of sexual assault nurse examiners (SANE) and sexual assault forensic examiners (SAFE) in Colorado Springs provided care to 2,515 patients needing specialized services, including sexual assault medical forensic exams. Most patients were seen at Memorial Hospital Central, which currently has one dedicated exam room in its emergency department for medical forensic services.
“Although the new unit is adjacent to our Emergency Department, the environment will be quieter and calmer than the often-chaotic nature of a Level I Trauma Center,” said Sarah Hagedorn, clinical manager for the forensic nursing team at UCHealth Memorial Hospital. “We want it to feel like a protected space where patients feel safe.’’
AIM (At-Risk Intervention and Mentoring) Program
Patients who are at risk of repeat injury from violence in metro Denver receive help from AIM, a hospital-based violence intervention program.
The goal is to help survivors of intentional trauma and violence and their families break the cycle of violence. AIM, founded in 2010, utilizes best practices, trauma-informed care and a public health approach to care for survivors of violent injury.
UCHealth leads a grant-funded veteran suicide prevention program called Next Chapter that can serve as many as 700 veterans and their families each year.
Any veteran and their family in El Paso County needing services may enroll in the program aimed at helping veterans and their families move forward with support and help.
Services include therapy, counseling, employment help, housing support at no cost and no exclusions based on discharge status from the military.
Older adults and the Aspen Club of northern Colorado
UCHealth’s Aspen Club in northern Colorado has nearly 14,000 members.
Established in 1989 to provide a wide range of program benefits including health education, screenings, hospital discounts and social opportunities, the Aspen Club serves residents ages 50 and older in Fort Collins, Loveland, Greeley and Longmont.
The club offers classes on preventing falls, one of the leading causes of injury for older adults; joint replacement surgery; how to fill out paperwork on advance directives and understanding the ins and outs of Medicare and more.
Postpartum Nurse Home Visit Program
In northern Colorado, UCHealth provides community health nurses to visit newborns and their families who are covered by Medicaid in Larimer County.
Established in 1999, UCHealth covers nurses’ salaries. Mothers pay no out-of-pocket costs for the care provided in the comfort of their home. In 2022, 221 mothers and 224 infants were seen by a nurse who assesses the health of moms and newborns in the first week of the postpartum period to promote safety and well-being for mothers and their newborns.
Returning Coloradans to better health
UCHealth is partnering with more than 40 businesses and organizations through a health challenge called Ready. Set. CO.
The challenge is aimed at making Colorado one of the healthiest states in the nation. UCHealth is collaborating with like-minded Colorado companies to drive awareness, education and engagement, and to encourage and support the health and well-being of Coloradans through fitness, nutrition, mental/behavioral health, interpersonal relationships, community involvement, self-care and medical care.
“We want to think unconventionally,’’ said Tomas Estrella, an innovation strategist at UCHealth. “We don’t just view ourselves as a health system. We’re also a lifestyle resource. We are providing Coloradans with resources they need to stay healthy and out of the hospital.
“We don’t necessarily want people to come to us, we want to keep them healthy so that they can enjoy living their best life,” Estrella said.
DAWN (Dedicated to Aurora’s Wellness and Needs) Clinic
Each Tuesday night in the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center, dozens of students from the University of Colorado health sciences schools volunteer their time for the DAWN (Dedicated to Aurora’s Wellness and Needs) Clinic.
Opened in 2015 with support from the health sciences schools and UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital, the clinic supports diverse, underserved and uninsured populations who are in need of medical help.
Patients have access to specialty care services, social services and more at no cost to them.
Healthy Hearts and Minds
Focused on school-age preventive health education, adult wellness and family lifestyle intervention, Healthy Hearts and Minds is a program to screen students and educate them on how to prevent heart disease and build lifelong healthy habits to promote physical and emotional wellness.
More than 150,000 students in 12 school districts and 120 elementary, middle and high schools have been empowered by the program.
Addressing food insecurity across Colorado
- UCHealth has partnered with We Don’t Waste, a Denver nonprofit, since 2013. The goal is to reduce hunger and food waste by delivering unused food from the food industry and delivering it to food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, schools, day care programs, and more.
- UCHealth’s Healthy Swings Home Run Derby generated $120,000 for Food for Thought, a 100% volunteer run nonprofit that distributes food to more than 13,000 kids in the Denver area.
- The Family Medicine Center in northern Colorado provides patients with free healthy foods and family meal ideas. The center is stocked with fresh fruits and vegetables, canned and packaged staples, including beans and pasta, and refrigerated items. The program, opened in 2017, serves low-income Medicaid patients who have food insecurity. More than 6,125 individuals have been served during 11,472 visits.